What it’s like to parent a child who won’t potty train

This blog seeks to help the parents of children who are slower to train than usual realize they are not alone. It provides some information, stories, and coping tactics for parents waiting for things to ‘click’ for their child and encourages new and different ways of thinking about the process that will help increase patience.

If any of the following apply to you, you are at the right place:

“I am so angry over potty training!”

“I am so DONE with potty training…how much longer is this going to take?”

“Potty training my child is going nowhere…and I’m about to lose it.”

“I am feeling so angry I am about to explode, and it scares me.”

“Potty training is taking too long…I really can’t take this much longer.”

Potty training can be a cinch and happen overnight for some children and their fortunate parents. On the flip side, it can be a long and grueling marathon that runs down the most patient and understanding of parents, and it can turn otherwise-agreeable children into belligerent pillars of uncooperativeness. For most families, the process of potty training falls somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

For the lucky parents whose potty training efforts seems almost effortless, resorting to the internet or a book is not really necessary. For the parents who struggle for months or even years with a child resistant to potty train, I speak from experience that there is a lack of support and reading materials to help them through the long and winding road of extended potty training.

I created this website because I felt so alone and lost as the process of potty training my first child was extremely lengthy. It left me feeling intense and frightening emotions that I had never felt before, like extreme frustration, anger, and rage. No parent should have to go through such a journey alone and without anywhere to look for understanding, knowledge, or words of wisdom. My hope for this blog is that it reaches all of the parents and caregivers out there who are ‘on the edge’ and just don’t know how they will survive one more day of potty training a reluctant child. I hope for you that you find support and information, and that you leave this site feeling encouraged and not so alone.

Potty training is hard. Extended potty training, when the process of training lasts far longer than what is typical, is exponentially harder. You will get through it, so hang in there and read on….


11 thoughts on “What it’s like to parent a child who won’t potty train”

  1. Hello,
    My wife and I have a huge problem. Our daughter is chronically constipated!! (I have left my wife’s website, so you can see the full extent of our problems.) Luckily, I am the head of rectal studies at Jim Johnson University, In Smalltown, Ohio. I have screened your blog, and I must say, you are very informed! Please, contact me and my wife at her website, so that we may get in contact!
    Many thanks(and poops!)
    Prof. Jake Nathan Gravey MD

  2. HI! I just wanted to send a note of thanks for creating this blog. I have a 7-year old son who has struggled with encopresis for almost three years. I recognize myself in so much of what you write – I too have weathered through those emotional storms – been afraid of what I feel and finally coming to the realization that the only way I can help my boy is by not taking it personally. My guilt only aggravates the situation. I will say that it has been such a lonely journey, I wished we had had a support group of sorts while going through this. My biggest frustration to date is that my son is not REALLY getting better, despite being on quite strong laxatives. That is to say, he goes through weeks of no accidents, only to start soling slightly again, it seems he gets “blocked up” again. I worry every day that he is taking medicine that may be too strong, yet not really helping him. It is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of a situation in my mind. Don’t listen to the doctors, and he might get worse. listen to the doctors, and he might get better (but he also might not) by taking some pretty powerful medicine for a small body. Nothing has left me feeling so vulnerable before!

    1. Wow do I ever feel your situation!
      My daughter is 6 1/2 and was diagnosed at 5 1/2 but I think she was dealing with Encopresis for years.my daughter has had a stressful child hood and only in the 2 years has our life become more normal.
      I accept that she has Encopresis soiling but my big issue is that she HATES going to the toilet and would rather stay in her soiled underwear. It is always a fight with her and she has such an attitude. We just started to see a psychiatrist at the hospital. I try to always stay positive but it is so hard. I also have a 15 year old autistic child a 3 year old and 2 step children it is a lot on my plate.

  3. I am grateful to everyone who has stopped by to read my blog and leave messages. Even if I don’t personally respond to each one, know that I read them and appreciate you taking the time to share a little about yourself and your journey. They encourage me to continue sharing my experiences and what I have learned from my bumpy path of parenthood.

    Someone once told me, “You’ll NEVER know how many people you can help when you simply share your struggles.” Writing this blog has been therapeutic for me, and although we are still on a roller coaster with our child and his toileting challenges, I am now able to weather the troughs and peaks without the intensity of negative emotions that once bubbled to the surface.

    Thank you, blogosphere. Thank you, readers.

  4. Hello Parents,
    Thank you for letting me comment on your blog. I had a child with encopresis many years ago and it lasted for 4 years. Even as a Pediatric Gastroenterologist, I suffered back in those days to help my child and found little guidance from the medical community. Since then, I have devoted the better part of my medical career to treating children with encopresis.
    I have developed a treatment protocol that is very effective for ending the soiling accidents. The children I work with do require laxatives and often for an extended time.
    Nearly 5 years ago, I developed a telemedicine program to help children around the world with this problem. It is going amazing and we have just finished compiling data from a recent survey of 130 children. We know now that it is possible to treat encopresis effectively with a regimen of oral laxatives and that 92% of the children we treat are free of accidents in 1-3 weeks. All these families have my cell phone and email and contact me with questions, problems and general support. The availability and support is a large component of success. We believe that every child deserves to have a happy, carefree childhood with out the devastation and worry of fecal accidents. We are working on preparing a paper for publication to medical journals and hope to impact the way physicians think about and encopresis. Feel free to reach out if you have questions. Doctor Daum http://www.doctordaum.com

  5. Just found your blog because I googled “angry potty training.” What a relief! I thought I was a monster for just losing my mind over the frustration and, yes, sometimes rage, I feel potty training my very resistant 3 year old. I feel like everyone around me has easily and successfully potty trained. I feel guilty because maybe we waited too long. I am sick of spending money on diapers and repeating the same phrases twenty times in a row everyday, several times a day. This blog is just what I need. Thank you!

    1. Welcome, and thanks for posting! This is the club no one wants to have to belong to…but at least we’re not alone.

    1. Thank you Mark for posting on the blog. I have had many adults reveal to me their struggles with soiling and accidents as adults, since I am so open about talking about these issues. These include individuals who have been in their 20s, 30, 50s, and 80s, and I’m sure there are many, many more in all age categories. This can be a lifelong struggle for many, who suffer in silence and feel the even-stronger stigma against bowel and bladder issues in adulthood. I am trying to figure out how to add a “chicklet” so you can subscribe to receive automatic notification of my new posts via email. It is not easy to add on this particular WordPress template but I am working on it because I’d like for you and others to have that option. I’ll let you know when it is available.

  6. Thanks so much for putting the resources on this website together. Potty training is a huge step, both for the child and the parent, it takes lots of patience and effort from both party, and when it takes a long period of time to potty train kids, it might be discouraging.

    Thanks you for this valuable resources, several of your post have been helpful.

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